The present St James church was opened in December, 1878, having been built by William Cook and Son from Waimate North. It replaced a building that had been on the same site since 1829. The church was extended by five metres in 1963. St James church is named after St. James the Great of Compostella. The church is built of kauri and sits on puriri piles, some of which have been replaced. The church roof was replaced in 2017. But it is the interior of the church that holds most attraction for visitors.
The top three stained glass windows in the sanctuary (eastern end) were donated by William Hawkins. (He also donated an acre of land on which the vicarage stands, at 128 Kerikeri Rd.) The lower windows, designed by Cecilia Russell, were donated by Jenny Ward.
The windows at the other, west, end of the church were designed by B Bennet and donated by J and M Kennedy. Other interesting windows include the World War 2 commemorative window, next to the oak pulpit. Beside it is a plaque in memory of Bill Warbrick which details his interesting war experiences, including working on the Bridge on the River Qwai.
The organ in front of the windows was donated by Henry Driver in 1985. The organ has recently been refurbished. Music is a strong part of worship at St James. The congregation is blessed to have five organists and a choirmaster, John Jackets, who assembles a choir for services at Easter, Christmas and the patronal festival.
Because of its age, the church constantly requires upkeep and this costs upward of $250 a day! Visitors’ contribution by way of the donations box in the entrance foyer is appreciated.